The words 'Yaya Toure' and 'poor form' are not often found in the same sentence together, with the powerful Ivorian having played a key role in Manchester City's midfield for the past few years now.
Strong, marauding and comfortable in possession, he uses these attributes to link defence and attack - picking up the ball deep within his own half and sparking a fast, deadly counter attack. His presence on the pitch has been one of the biggest factors in City's recent rise to success.
Toure has been poor this season
However, since the now-infamous 'birthday cake incident' over the summer, along with numerous declarations of dissatisfaction at the club, it has not quite clicked for Toure and his team is suffering as a result.
While City battled hard against Bayern Munich in their first Champions League game of the season, despite slipping to a late 1-0 defeat, it was in midfield that they suffered immensely, with several pundits and match reports picking up on the lack of interest or work ethic from Toure.
Pundits disappointed with Toure
'I thought Yaya Toure was really disappointing,' stated Phil Neville for the BBC, 'He didn't look happy. He was strolling around the pitch and his body language wasn't right.'
Jamie Jackson, writing for the Guardian online outlined his performance perfectly: "What the Allianz Arena witnessed was the plodding, slumbering Toure who looks - and is - only half interested."
For a player earning £220,000 a week, this is simply unacceptable, particularly when the entire world is aware of the incredible talents he has to offer.
With star wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery both out of last nights' tie, much of Bayern's threat came from agile, nimble, central players such as Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze and even the aging legs of Xabi Alonso - their clever combination play and intelligent movement bamboozling City for long periods of the match.
Toure's work ethic called into question
With Toure unwilling to track back, much of the defensive responsibility was left to the Brazilian Fernandinho who, with very little support, was run ragged and collapsed late on with cramp in both legs. He could have done no more to support his defence in keeping out the Bayern attack.
He needed help from his midfield partner, who seemed disinterested in tracking back and entirely content to allow his fellow midfielder to deal with the defensive duties alone. And City suffered, not for the first time this season.
With Toure playing badly, yet still a first name on the team sheet, the midfield effectively finds itself a man down at times. Normally, Toure is the catalyst for his side - the main box-to-box midfielder, defending his own half before leading a powerful break at speed.
Against Bayern, this deficit came to haunt them as the German side nabbed a late winner. Losses to Arsenal and Stoke already this season stem from the same problem of failing to dominate the midfield and build from there.
Toure falling out of favour at the Etihad
Toure is steadily falling out of favour at the Etihad, despite his world class talents and usual dependency. The various controversies over the summer and subsequent poor form hint at a man who is no longer content with his position at a club that both adores him and pays him a gigantic wage and new signing Fernando will be chomping at the bit to replace the Ivorian on the team sheet.
As long as he continues this disinterested vein of form, Manchester City will suffer. However, as the old cliche goes, form is temporary; class is forever, and the midfielder will need to quickly prove that saying right. City have relied on his domination of the midfield for years and several of their defeats this season have been down to his failure to find that form and control the pitch and he needs to change things around quickly if City hope for any success this season.
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